Mayors Seek Local Control Over 5G Wireless Rollout | WGLT

Mayors Seek Local Control Over 5G Wireless Rollout

Jul 18, 2019

U.S. mayors want to make sure the rollout of faster 5G wireless service doesn't clutter up their communities.

Normal Mayor Chris Koos recently attended the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Hawaii. Koos serves on the group's transportation and communications committee, along with Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner.

5G is wireless, but it's a bit different from the wireless we already know.

Current cell towers cover a several-mile radius, but they are as big as tall pine trees. 5G cells are the size of laptops, and they cover only a radius of around a couple of thousand feet. But they can easily be installed on telephone poles and light poles.

Installing all those small cells could increase visual clutter in a town’s landscape, Koos said.

"It can be pretty unsightly, and people will be very upset by that. So we want the ability to have some local control on that," Koos said on WGLT's Sound Ideas.

Local governments "lost the battle" on retaining local control of fiber optic cable installation, Koos said, giving telecommunications companies wide latitude on where fiber can be placed.

And while telecoms are focused on big cities for now, it's only a matter of time before 5G reaches midsized communities like Bloomington-Normal.

"We would like local control over how that's rolled out in our community. So it's a big issue for mayors. The telecoms are fighting that at the federal level. They want federal control only and no control in terms of local,” said Koos.

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